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Budgeting

Top Tips on Saving Money When Eating Out

Many more of us are eating out lately. This is partly to do with there being more restaurants popping up along our high streets, pubs serving food as well as drinks and the fact that many of us are looking or more convenient ways to eat as we find less time for cooking. However, eating out can be expensive, but there are ways that you can keep the costs down and still enjoy the benefits of eating out.

Where to Eat?

Firstly, think about the place that you are going to eat. It is easy these days to search online in advance, look at local restaurants, study their menus and things like that. Many will have prices on their websites and this will allow you to compare them based on how much they will cost, which can be really helpful. This will allow you to pick the cheapest place to eat.

You may not like the idea of picking the cheapest place though. It might be that you are keen on their food, they are too far away or you want a bit of luxury or feel you will get better quality if you pay more. Therefore you will need to think about whether there are other ways that you can reduce the cost rather than eating at a cheaper place.

How Often to Eat Out?

Of course, you could eat out less often or you could see whether having a take away would be cheaper, if you are happy with eating take away food. Another way is to look at the actual food and see whether you can buy less. It might be that you could cut out a pudding, for example. Puddings can be really expensive and they are often just a frozen item which is microwaved or defrosted and cut up with a blob of ice cream. They are often the thing that attracts the biggest mark up in the restaurant and are therefore overpriced. If you like puddings, then you could find that there are far cheaper ones available in your local supermarket which needs no preparation. You could consider going home and having that when you get there rather than paying too much for one while out.

Share Food

Another thing to consider is sharing food. For example, if you want side dishes for a meal, perhaps get them between you rather than one each. There is often more than you can eat anyway and so by sharing you will waste less and pay less. You may be allowed to pick from the children’s menu, for example which will be cheaper and if you have a small appetite this could suit you a lot better. Another option could be to have a starter and a side, which might be cheaper than a main, but this will vary depending on the restaurant you are at and the choices you make. You will also find that some dishes are just cheaper than others. For example, the vegetarian dishes tend to be cheaper as do the pastas compared with steak. It is therefore worth studying the prices on the menu and seeing which dishes you think you will enjoy and whether there are cheaper options among those that you are looking at.

Drinks

Drinks are another thing which are really expensive when eating out. Think about whether you think that they are really worth what you are paying. Alcohol tends to be dearer in restaurants than pubs and bars, at least in some cases, so it could be better to have a drink elsewhere before you eat or even have one at home. Coffees are also really expensive and so it could be better to have one at home when you get back, rather than in a restaurant. If you like a latte or cappuccino then these can be hardtop replicate at home unless you have a coffee machine, but if you have an Americano then this can be easy to make at home to a similar quality. If you drink tea, then you can easily make it at home and have a much cheaper cup. If you like water with your meal, ask for a jug of tap water as they do not charge for this and if you have bottled it will be so much more expensive as they will have premium bands so they can mark up the price even more.

Pensions

Choosing the right time to Start Pension Planning

We all know the importance of making sure that we have enough money to help us to be able to retire comfortably. It would be lovely to think that we could continue to live in our current home with enough money to cover all of the bills and to have a good time and perhaps even take some holidays from time to time. However, in order to do this we will need to have a pension to pay for it. We will need to think about how we will be able to get that pension.

What is a pension?

In order to have a pension we need to invest money so that when we reach retirement age we will be able to cash it the money and buy an annuity which will give us pension payments each month. If we want to maintain our standard of living then we will need to make sure that we are paying in enough so that we can get enough back when we need it. However, there is no avoiding that nagging feeling that maybe you will not be able to enjoy that money in the future, perhaps if you do not live that long or if you are in ill health and so it is tempting to spend it. One way to protect against losing the money is to set up the pension so that it can go to someone else if you cannot draw it. This would normally be a spouse but it could be children or even parents depending on what close family you have. You can usually change this during the course of the pension if you relationships with people change.

Personal/Work Pensions

With personal and work pension payments, you will make regular monthly payments into a fund. You will not gain interest in the way that you do with savings, but the value of the fund should increase over time. It tends to be invested in the stock market which overall will increase in value over time. There is likely to be a fund manager which will make sure that money is invested as wisely as possible. There is still a risk, just like there is with payday loans, but this should help your money to grow in value over time. The longer the money is invested the more time it has to grow which means that you will have a bigger pot when you retire. Alternatively, you will be able to invest less each month and get the same return if you invest for longer. For example if you pay in £1 a month from the age of 20 until you retire at 70 you will have paid in £600. However, if you wait until you are 50 to start paying in, you will need to pay in £2.50 a month in order to accumulate the same £600. So by delaying, you will end having to pay in bigger chunks of money. This is not the full story though, as that money is invested for less time, it will grow less, so it is likely that you will need to pay in even more in order to have to the same pension post size when you retire. It is hard to do an example of this as growth is not always the same and of course, the money you pay in early on will have much longer to grow compared with the money you pay in later in life.

Benefits

Even from this simple example, you will see that you can benefit in a lot of ways from starting to pay into a pension nice and early. It can be wise to start thinking about pensions as soon as you join the workforce and then you are far more likely to have a good income in retirement. It can seem a very long way away but once you get toed down into buying houses and having children you may forget all about it and then it may be too late to put aside enough for you to manage on. You may be paying into a government pension, but that is only a small amount and is unlikely to keep you in the lifestyle that you are used to. It also seems lately that governments are running out of money, so there is a risk that in the future they decide to reduce pensions or do away with them and so there is no guarantee that you will get that money back, although hopefully you will.